Legal How-To: Finding Assets in a Divorce Case
One of the more contentious aspects of any divorce proceeding is the division of property and assets.
Legally, both spouses are supposed to fully disclose any and all assets they have. But sometimes, a spouse may attempt to hide assets from the court, potentially skewing the property division unfairly in his or her favor.
How can you make sure your ex isn't hiding assets from you? Here are a few pointers to consider:
- Carefully examine any voluntary declarations. In a perfect world, both spouses would voluntarily disclose all of their respective assets voluntarily. This saves both sides time and can avoid a protracted back and forth battle and large numbers of discovery requests. Once you and your ex exchange your voluntary asset disclosures, carefully review the information and make note of any errors or omissions.
- Demand copies of financial records. Often one spouse is in charge of bookkeeping, doing taxes and other financial record keeping. This puts the other spouse at an extreme disadvantage when it comes to a contentious property division battle. Even if you don't suspect your ex is hiding something, you and/or your attorney can demand the other spouse turn over all financial records just to be sure; this may involve having the court issue subpoenas.
- Interrogatories and requests for admission. You or your attorney can also serve your ex with written questions called interrogatories, which must be answered truthfully and within a certain timeframe. Along with general or specific questions, your attorney can also compel your spouse to admit to facts pertaining to the case.
- Demand to inspect property. Along with demanding records, you can also demand to physically inspect certain assets, or have items professionally appraised. This may be necessary if the value of an asset is contested.
- Depositions. You or your attorney can also ask your spouse questions in person in what is called a deposition. A deposition is sworn testimony, taken under oath before a court reporter and both spouses' attorneys. Anything your ex says in a deposition can be used in court.
Need More Help?
In a divorce case, the use of discovery tools can be crucial to a fair outcome, especially if your ex is being shady. If you believe the other party is potentially concealing assets in your divorce proceedings, an experienced divorce attorney can help ensure that you get your fair share of any marital property.
- The FindLaw Guide to Divorce and Property Division (FindLaw)
- Uncontested Divorce Basics: 5 Things to Consider (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- 3 Ways to Protect Business Assets in Divorce (FindLaw's Free Enterprise)
- Sign Up for Our Free Legal Planning Newsletter (FindLaw's Legal Heads-Up)